The origin of The Color Computer Library
by John Wight aka Johnny Appleseed
How did The Color Computer Library come to be? Perhaps it got its start in the early to mid ‘70’s when, as a grade school student, I would visit the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, Washington, and discovered those "toys" called computers. The interesting thing about those toys was that there were so many different things that you could do with them. Unfortunately, at that time my ability to explore the many uses of a computer was limited, as home computers were unheard of, that is, until a very short time later.
Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs introduced their home brewed Apple I in 1976, then the Apple II was introduced. From 1978 to 1983 a new home computer market came into existence due to competition with Apple from companies such as Commodore, and most importantly to me, Radio Shack.
I was a young adult in 1983 when I bought my first home computer from Radio Shack. It was a TRS-80 MC-10 Micro Color Computer. Over time, this was upgraded to Radio Shack’s Tandy Color Computer 3. With this series of computers, I learned more about programming and the many uses of a computer by reading computer books and magazines and typing in programs in the BASIC programming language that I found in those magazines.
In the meantime, during the mid-80’s, while attending college in Washington State, I learned to maintain a computer BBS (Bulletin Board System), a new and exciting way for computer hobbyists to share information over phone lines with their modems. I found myself hooked, and after college, I bought my own modem, and started communicating and sharing information online by means of other BBS systems in the area.
In the late 80’s, I found a growing online community in these BBS systems. Computer users in the Seattle area where I lived were exchanging messages with computer users all over the country and even all over the world thanks to the amateur Fidonet network. Information of all types was being shared, including reading material, pictures and music (although primitive by today’s standards), and software programs.
As all this was going on, I found myself upgrading my Tandy Color Computer 3 system with floppy drives, hard drives and a faster modem, and the OS-9 Level 2 operating system, a Unix like multitasking operating system. OS-9 on the Tandy Color Computer 3 was far superior to PC Compatibles running MS-DOS and even the earliest versions of Windows in its ability to multitask and its features that were far ahead of the popular operating systems of that time. I now had the equipment to start my own BBS, and this I did in early 1990.
So it came time to come up with a name for my BBS. As a kid, teenager and even an adult, I was one that always liked to read and learn, and found the library to be my favorite place. With the library, I could find information on whatever pleased me at the time. I had an interest in science and there were all kinds of science books at the library. I had an interest in electronics and wanted to try to build my own electronic kits and there were books on this, too. At other times, I remember reading books from the library to learn, for example, a foreign language, to learn about places where I wanted to travel, to learn more about making movies and to learn how to take pictures. There was also fiction, and science fiction was my favorite, along with human interest stories. And the library had not only books, but also at that time vinyl records and audio tapes. (Videotapes and DVD movies would come later.) By this time, I had started to build up a similar collection of information on my BBS system, information in electronic format. So here was a library made available to the public on a BBS system run on a Tandy Color Computer 3, and the name seemed to fit, and thus "The Color Computer Library" BBS was born.
The Color Computer Library was open to the public from 1990 to 1999. It didn’t take too long for it to outgrow the Tandy Color Computer 3. It grew into a network of multiple computers and operating systems. It grew into what was said to be the best BBS in Honolulu, HI. My goal was to create the electronic format of that storehouse of information called the public library, and the BBS did indeed come to have a vast collection of information. It was also a means for computer users to exchange messages and share information on all topics. "The Color Computer Library" was even connected to the Internet for a time, and in 1995, "The Color Computer Library" web site had its start. But the Internet was the undoing of the BBS system.
In the mid-90’s, as we all know, the Internet and the World Wide Web became terms known to all. This collection of information was so, so much more vast than any single BBS system could hope to hold. As a result, the number of BBS systems around the world went down significantly as the use of the Internet went up, and callers to "The Color Computer Library" became fewer and fewer until that time in 1999 when callers were almost non-existent.
When The Color Computer Library BBS was open, my goal was to continue to grow and develop this storehouse of information, but perhaps I see this now as the impossible dream that it was. Now we have the Internet, with countless people around the world sharing on their computers and their web sites what is of particular interest to them. We all have easy access to this information now, so there is no need to build a large library of information on our computers at our homes and our businesses. As such, the goal of the new web site that I still call "The Color Computer Library" is to share only the best information, admittedly slanted to what is of interest to me, information that I hope will be useful to you.
It brings to mind what one of my college professors used to say. The important thing wasn’t so much what we knew, or that we were able to learn everything there was to know about computers, for example. Rather, what was important was our ability to be able to look up and find the information that we didn’t know, that we hadn’t learned.
And so The Color Computer Library lives on in this new format and new spirit, but at the same time has not forgotten its roots.
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and Writers: John Wight
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